Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Exclamation Points of the Gods

Chanced across this knockout (and heretofore unseen by me) promo clip of The Beatles doing "Help" on the same day I came across a wonderful interview with director Richard Lester on the making of the film (in the current issue of MoJo).

Lots of interesting tidbits in the piece. Perhaps my favorite is this one:

All of them [the Beatles] had this love-hate relationship with the American DJ, Murray the K, who was always pestering them. He came to the Bahamas when they were filming the fight on the beach, which appears at the end of the film, and he begged to be in it. So we dressed him up and put him in it, and the boys just made a beeline for him and practically kicked him to death."

There's also a fascinating insight into John Lennon's creative process vis a vis the title song.

We wanted to call the film Help early on. The problem was someone else had already registered the name. Shit! So we considered some other titles [High-Heeled Knickers, Who's Been Sleeping in My Porridge, and the all-too-apt The Day the Clowns Collapsed were all suggestions]. Ringo came up with Eight Arms to Hold You, which no one was particularly enamored with, but no one had anything better. As it got closer to the wire, the Beatles were looking at each other, saying "Who's going to write this awful-sounding song?"

Finally, we went back to the lawyers....and they said "Well, does your 'Help' have an exclamation point?" We said, "no, but do you want one?" They said, "If it has one, it's a different title."

This is literally three days before we had to shoot the opening scene to playback. John started writing straight away -- in the studio in the afternoon, in the car, overnight in Weybridge. Then the next morning they played it to me on the piano. They recorded it that day, and the next day we started filming the sequence... It's ironic that John ended up saying [in a Playboy interview] that it was the first genuinely personal song that he had written. Odd for a song written to order in 24 hours, but maybe it isn't so strange. He had no time to "craft" it. It just came staight through, channeling his innermost feelings."

Pretty cool, huh?

Meanwhile -- I love the clip, especially when the snow starts falling on the boys. Anybody ever seen it before? I know it's not in Anthology....


dave™© said...

Didn't Lennon pretty much write "Hard Day's Night" the same way? McCartney might have had a little more input than in "Help," but it was also a last-minute, overnight job.

The moral of the story: don't think too much about it!

dave™© said...

And speaking of video clips not seen in "Anthology" - when the FUCK is there going to be a DVD collection of (at the very least) all the Beatle "promo" films, complete and uncut?

I can see where there might be clearance issues with some of the TV performances, but why is it the only place I can see a straight-through version of "Strawberry Fields" is on YouTube?

steve simels said...

I haven't watched it in a while, but isn't the "Fields" clip on Anthology uninterrupted?

return of the plumber said...

2 thoughts:

Doesn't Ringo play a mean umbrella?

Promo (music) Videos in general: Is this any way for grown men to act?

PS The snow was cool!

Kid Charlemagne said...


Thank you for spending so much time on YouTube!!

Great clip, I've never seen it before.

steves said...

Well done, Mr. S.! It was worth the wait. I'd never seen that before, either. Cool story about Murray the K, too. Thanks. And let me add that "fat" John was the coolest.

TMink said...

First time for me, what a charming and touching video. The haircuts from that period are so deep in my unconscious that I cannot fight them! No matter how short I get my hair cut to please my lovely wife, I let it grow till it gets that length, and get it cut again when it passes it. It is like some weird "cool" barometer in my head, even though the style is so last century.


dave™© said...

I seem to recall the "SFE" video getting a voice-over and/or an early cut-off in "Anthology."

But yeah, it's been about five years since I saw it last.

Cleveland Bob said...

Nope. Never saw that one before. And I'd just like to say that as an entirely heterosexual male of the human species, I think John is positively stunning looking in that video.

He's still one of the coolest guys ever in my book.

Brooklyn Girl said...

Nope, never saw it. And I can't hear it at work ... new computer, but no sound hook-up yet. At least that's one thing I can look forward to doing when I get home (hey, that would be a good song title).

Murray the K, the self-proclaimed Fifth Beatle ... I joined his fan club just so I could get Beatles stuff, like the 45 on which John recites "I Sat Belonely Down a Tree" ...

Ramona Quimby said...

I have never seen this, and I thought I had seen all things Beatle.

It's very sweet (look at George's face when the snow starts). Looks like it was done at the same time they did the "Beatles '65" cover shoot (with the umbrellas).

Oh, goddess, I miss John and George.